Whether one prefers Kindle or a real tome between hard covers, a book makes a great holiday gift. This year, why not give a book by a local author? Here are a few literary offerings that the Mirror has become aware of this year, all by local or Santa Monica authors and presses.
In Our Quiet Village by Mary Lou Chayes (Dog Ear Publishing, dogearpublishing.net) is a novel, based on fact, about a German immigrant, his family, and the unfortunate turn their lives take when the father’s second marriage to his former housekeeper becomes unbearable. The somewhat steamy story is set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in upstate New York and unfolds against a background of union organizing and social and technological changes. The author lives in Santa Monica and is publishing this, her first novel, at age 82.
Urban Worrier by Frank Gruber (City Image Press, cityimagepress.com) was reviewed in the Mirror’s June 18 issue. A collection of Gruber’s columns for the online Lookout News, it examines in detail Santa Monica’s political and social landscape: the City Council and civic meetings, development issues, changes in the city’s appearance and economy, even the problems and advantages of the weather. Gruber’s style is imaginative, often humorous, and always honest.
The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works by Henry Waxman with Joshua Green (Twelve, twelvebooks.com) is a political memoir by the Westside’s longtime congressman. Waxman traces his roots growing up in Los Angeles, getting involved with politics in the 1960s, being elected to the state assembly and then to Congress, and becoming involved with key legislation on health care, medications, tobacco, and the environment. In clear and uncomplicated prose, Waxman details how politics is a tough, often dirty game, and how he has persevered in fighting for laws that help America and his constituency.
The Demented Chauffeur & Other Mysteries by Michael C. Ford (Ion Drive, IonDrivePublishing.com) is an odd little book of poems about crimes and mysteries in Los Angeles. Ford, an admirer of film noir, Raymond Chandler, and the haunting terrain of a bygone L.A., writes about the Black Dahlia, movie stars, tragic true stories of lost starlets, and tough times in Tinseltown. His view might seem bleak and apocalyptic at times but with titles like “Madonna and Prince Are Invited Aboard the Deathstar,” and “I Wish I Coulda Been a Humphrey Bogart Big Shot,” it’s obvious that there’s some fun to be had here too.
Ford’s book can be found at the Beyond Baroque bookstore in Venice where one can also find spoken word CDs such as Rodeo for the Sheepish (Henhouse Studios, henhousestudios.com). Rodeo features the amusing and mind-blowing poetry of Ellyn Maybe set to musical backgrounds by Harlan Steinberger and Tommy Jordan. It’s not hip-hop; it’s something else, jazzy and hypnotic and certainly in a class by itself. It’s been getting airplay on KCRW and other college stations. Pick it up now and be ahead of the next wave.